Malaysia Turns Down AirAsia Airport

January 30, 2009

Malaysia’s government has turned down plans from budget carrier AirAsia to build a new airport outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said on Friday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandez and Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday.

AirAsia had proposed to build, own and operate the MYR1.6 billion Malaysian ringgit (USD$443.7 million) airport along with conglomerate Sime Darby.

Malaysia Turns Down AirAsia Airport

January 30, 2009

Malaysia’s government has turned down plans from budget carrier AirAsia to build a new airport outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, a source with knowledge of the negotiations said on Friday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandez and Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday.

AirAsia had proposed to build, own and operate the MYR1.6 billion Malaysian ringgit (USD$443.7 million) airport along with conglomerate Sime Darby.

Production Resumes on Boeing 787 Dreamliners with Fifth Flight-Test Airplane

Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the 787 Final Assembly facility in Everett, Washington

EVERETT, Wash., Jan. 30, 2009 — Production of Boeing [NYSE: BA] 787 Dreamliners resumed yesterday with the join of the fifth airplane designated for flight test.

This airplane, designated ZA005, is the first to be powered with General Electric GEnx engines. The major assemblies were loaded in final body join over the past several days. The fuselage and wing joins occur simultaneously.

“This airplane signifies our return to a steady production rhythm,” said Jack Jones, vice president of 787 Final Assembly and Change Incorporation.

“Sections are arriving in Everett at the completion levels committed by our partners and close to what is expected for mature production,” Jones said. “The substantial progress made by our partners streamlines the assembly process, which is essential as we ramp up production.”

Five of the six airplanes designated for flight test are now in varying stages of production. Power was restored earlier this week to the first flight-test airplane, ZA001, and production testing has resumed as the airplane prepares for first flight in the second quarter. Rolls-Royce engines are hung on ZA002, in the fourth and final production position in the factory. The third and fourth flight-test airplanes, ZA003 and ZA004, are in the third and second production positions, respectively.

Fastener rework is done on ZA001, nearly complete on ZA002 and progressing well on the third and fourth airplanes, Jones said. “We have applied the resources necessary to complete all the outstanding work on these airplanes and keep the production line moving forward.”

Assemblies for the final flight-test airplane, ZA006, are in production at partner sites worldwide. In all, assemblies for 30 Dreamliners are in production at this time.

The 787 Dreamliner has orders for 895 airplanes from 58 airlines.

Contact Info:

Mary Hanson
787 Communications

Copyright © 1995 – 2009 Boeing. All Rights Reserved.

CO2 Smallsat To Launch Into A-Train

Jan 30, 2009
By Michael Mecham

NASA is in final preparations to launch the 897-pound Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) into the so-called “A-Train” of other climate monitoring satellites in an effort to pinpoint where carbon dioxide is being emitted and absorbed.

The answer to that balancing act should help define how much man is contributing – and in what ways – to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) that are believed to be greatly altering global climate.

Built by Orbital Sciences Corp. (OSC) of Dulles, Va., OCO carries a single instrument that includes three high-resolution grating spectrometers from Hamilton Sundstrand Sensor Systems of Pomona, Calif., and is to be launched on an OSC Taurus XL 3110 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 23.

The three-stage booster will use a direct insertion to put it in a 705-kilometer (438-mile) high near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. It will circle the Earth every 99 minutes and repeat the same ground track every 16 days.

OCO is pegged as a two-year “exploratory” mission and has a lifecycle cost of $278 million, including the spacecraft, launch and operations. Once in place, it will lead a flotilla of atmospheric Earth observatories already in the same orbit from NASA and the European Space Agency. The “Afternoon,” or “A-Train” constellation includes Aqua, CloudSat, Parasol, Calipso and Aura.

OCO is to be installed at the head of the pack and its findings will be closely correlated with data gathered by the other spacecraft, particularly NASA’s Aqua, which is primarily studying oceans and sea ice, and Aura, which is focused on atmospheric studies, explained OCO Program Executive Eric Ianson of NASA headquarters.

Findings also will be coordinated with the Japanese GOSAT mission, which is using a different instrument pack that also is providing CO2 counts (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 26). Correlations also will be made with aircraft CO2 survey flights and ground-station monitors.

Scientists have been mapping CO2 levels in the lower atmosphere for years, explained Anna Michalak, an OCO science team member from the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor. The problem is that these surveys offer only a limited snapshot of what’s going on globally. OCO is the first spacecraft with a sole mission to produce a global CO2 survey.

Its spectrometer doesn’t actually measure CO2. Instead, it makes calibrations from sunlight reflections of molecules in the atmosphere, from which scientists can deduce CO2 concentration levels. To do this, the instrument will be periodically repositioned to obtain readings from different angles – both straight down “nadir” and angled “glint” samples.

Even with concern about how much man’s activities are building up carbon dioxide levels, the actual population of CO2 varies across the globe and has been difficult to track. How much it varies is one of the big question marks.

Equally difficult is knowing the location, timing and quantity of CO2 that is naturally produced and its location versus what man’s activities emit. The OCO mission is designed to fill in those gaps.

Artist’s concept of OCO: NASA

Lufthansa Against Airbus Guarantees

Jan 30, 2009
By Jens Flottau

Lufthansa is against the planned government support for Airbus delivery financing.

“We want competition, but we want fair competition,” Lufthansa’s Senior Vice-President of Corporate Fleet, Nico Buchholz, told The DAILY. “This [plan] is annoying,” he said on the sidelines of the first Embraer 195 delivery to Lufthansa subsidiary Air Dolomiti in Sao José dos Campos/Brazil.

The French government proposed earlier this week to provide around EUR5 billion in export guarantees for Airbus customers that have difficulties finding fincancing for current aircraft deliveries. Due to cancellations and deferrals, Airbus has virtually no overbooking left of its 2008 production and is keen to protect the planned deliveries. Following the French proposal, the German and Spanish governments study similar aid packages, too.

In spite of the much-reduced demand, Lufthansa is sticking to its plan to take delivery of 50 new aircraft this year. The acquisitions are paid through its own operating cash-flow and are equivalent to an investment of EUR2.5 billion. Lufthansa no longer expects to take delivery of its first two Airbus A380s this year, but it is still confident to introduce them for the summer timetable in March 2010.

Among the 50 new aircraft are the first 15 of 30 Embraer 190/195s on firm order. Five aircraft are earmarked for Air Dolomiti, and 25 are likely to be operated by regional subsidiary CityLine.

According to Buchholz, Lufthansa will start the acquisition process for either the Airbus A350XWB or the Boeing 787 in the summer, but a decision this year is “very unlikely.

With capacity to be kept flat as a reaction to the global downturn, Lufthansa is actively marketing part of its existing fleet.

Five widebodies, including A340s and A300-600s, are up for sale and the airline is also selling some of its Boeing 737-300s.

Photo: Lufthansa

USAF Launches Major Biofuel Initiative

Jan 30, 2009
By Joe Anselmo

MIAMI – U.S. Air Force officials are planning to acquire more than 300,000 gallons of biofuels under an effort to certify two types of the plant-derived fuels for use in a 50-50 mix with jet kerosene by 2013.

The effort builds on biofuel initiatives under way at commercial airlines and marks a major new step in the service’s drive to reduce its dependence on oil.

The Air Force’s plan calls for competitively selecting two types of biofuel and acquiring about 160,000 gallons of each. The winning biofuels will be used for lab analysis, engine testing and flight-tests during the next two or three years, according to Jeff Braun, director of the service’s Alternative Fuels Certification Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, who spoke at this week’s Eco-Aviation and Fuel Management conference here, sponsored by Aviation Week.

With every $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil costing the Air Force $600 million, then-Secretary Michael Wynne launched a drive in 2005 to make the service more energy independent. The Air Force has been working for several years toward certifying a blend of synthetic fuel – derived from coal, natural gas or biomass – for use in its entire fleet by 2011. A 50-50 blend of synthetic fuel was flight-tested on the B-52 in August 2007, followed by the C-17 in August 2008 and the B-1B a month later.

However, a synthetic fuel refining process can result in greater greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based energy without the use of carbon-capture technologies. Aviation analysts are confident that biofuels will be viewed more favorably by the environmentally conscious Obama administration. The Air Force’s go-ahead for the new effort was given last week, the week of President Barack Obama’s inauguration, a timing that Braun says was purely coincidental.

The Air Force wants half of its domestic aviation fuel to contain a 50 percent blend of alternative fuel – either bio or synthetic – by 2016. “We’re looking to replace a quarter of our total fuel need,” Braun said.

“Biofuels are much more attractive than synthetic fuels in many respects,” he conceded. “But the effort to certify a synthetic fuel was a necessary activity and has provided an extensive knowledge base that will significantly help in the new biofuel effort.”

The military biofuel effort would vastly exceed any testing by commercial airlines to date and will require a significant increase in production. “This is a big deal,” said Richard Altman, executive director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, an industry-government partnership that promotes development of alternative aviation fuels. “The tricky part is going to be how you get that many gallons.”

One positive, however, is that biofuels can be processed in existing petroleum refineries, reducing the need for costly infrastructure investments at a time when getting financing from the capital markets is difficult.

Photo: Wikipedia

Updated Apache Flies With New UAV System

Jan 29, 2009
Bettina H. Chavanne

An AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopter took its first flight recently, equipped with an upgraded version of the video from unmanned aircraft systems for interoperability teaming – level 2 (VUIT-2), called the Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA).

The Longbow UTA, as Lockheed Martin is calling it, is a two-way, high-bandwidth data link for Apache aircrews that allows sensor and flight path control of UAVs. During the recent test, the UTA acquired and tracked a Boeing unmanned Little Bird in flight.

Apache crews will now be able to exercise control of UAVs at long ranges and receive real-time, high-definition streaming video of their multi-function displays. While VUIT-2 is a federated system, UTA is fully integrated with the Apache Arrowhead Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor system.

The Longbow UTA system, as currently configured by the U.S. Army, consists of either a fire control radar or a UTA, a fire-and-forget radar frequency Hellfire millimeter wave-guided missile and an all-digital M299 launcher. The new system will be fielded beginning in 2012.

Image credit: Boeing